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Urasoe Festival takes center stage

By: By Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2011-07-21

It’s not the largest festival on Okinawa, but a visit to Urasoe City’s annual celebration is like revisiting a county fair in midtown America.

The 34th annual Tedako Matsuri kicks off Friday evening on the city’s Yafuso Street that will be closed to the traffic from 5 to 10 p.m. The opening night festival has pageantry, entertainment, music, and of course, food. It’s Urasoe City’s biggest event of the year, and they’ve invited the international community to bring the families and enjoy a bit of Okinawa culture.

A plus for many military families is the convenience of having a major festival practically in the back yard. Urasoe is centrally located near Camp Kinser, just south of Kadena Air Base and Camps Lester, Foster, and Futenma. Parking is slightly more available for visitors and participants than in many locales.

The Tedako Festival, with Tedako meaning ‘children of the sun’, pays homage to a powerful king of the ancient Ryukyu before it was united into one kingdom. King Eiso had his court in Urasoe, with the royal castle now in the Urasoe Castle Ruins Park. The festival begins tomorrow with taking the fire from the sun at the castle ruins.

Festival action moves to Urasoe Sports Park on Saturday starting with the Tedako Fire Ceremony at 2 p.m., although the day’s first activities are cultural entertainment and a street dance contest beginning at 1 p.m. at Urasoe Tedako Hall across the street from the sports park. A live concert starts at 6 pm. A taiko drum performance with Urasoe King-era costume sho follows at 7:30 p.m., and fireworks at 9 p.m. cap the day.

Sunday’s events include Dragon Boat Races at Makiminato Fishing Port just off Hwy 58 starting 9 a.m. and continuing all day.

Other Sunday events include a street dance contest, junior futsal tournament, and Urasoe Youth Eisa Festival that take place throughout the day. Rope jumping tournament on the main stage in the sports park starting at 11 a.m. is good for those wanting to work out a good sweat.

Urasoe Women’s groups are leading the visitors to Tedako Dance Festival starting at 5 p.m. and all are invited to join. 30-minute long fireworks at 9 p.m. crown the festival night.

There’s something for everyone throughout the afternoon at locations within the Urasoe Athletic Park, so take your cameras to capture the spectacular action.

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